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zinycor
2015-07-13, 09:14 PM
What is power gaming? is it a problem? is it something to strive for? Is the bane of roleplaying games? is something normal?

I saw 2 videos today on youtube:( this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pwNFMzLlRo) and this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkHd7mLhcoY)) and I see that people have very different views on it.

In my opinion making the best character you can is fine and i don't really see a problem with it. The problem is always with players outside of the game. The problem starts when a players is an *******.

I have played with nice players that have been focused on powergaming, roleplaying or having a nice beer on the game, all on the same table with no problem. If a guy is an ******* he will be no matter what he focus on.

Pluto!
2015-07-13, 09:59 PM
I'd define powergaming as exploiting a system to play with more mechanical influence than was intended by the game designers or than conventionally played by other players.

Game design often attempts to bribe players to play along with the system's narrative conceits - succumbing to character faults in Fate or expanding on your character's background in 3:16.

But when lopsided exchanges are presented that fall outside that sort of incentivized gameplay (D&D's murky eyes and shakey flaws, which are negligible enough on gameplay that their users might forget they're there), hunting those out, or twisting their actual play implications (an element that continually bugs me about this forum's D&D mentality of "play the maximally powerful mechanics acceptable in your game environment, replace their narrative baggage with something else" - this ignores the very purpose of class-based systems and effectively means trying to surreptitiously play a conceptually different game than the other players at the table in order to exert more mechanical influence on the game than any of them).

Flickerdart
2015-07-13, 10:08 PM
If you're of a philosophical bent, the powergamer is a great example of Heidegger's modern technological man, who treats a game's mechanics as a standing reserve of undifferentiated resources that are to be used for his goals.

If not, let's steal someone else's ideas on the subject. As with all things, Magic the Gathering's designers have much better insight into this than anything from D&D itself. The player trio of Timmy, Johnny, and Spike has been around for a while, and Spike is the classic power gamer. Timmy plays to do simple things that feel good - get a level 20 fighter with a +5 sword, and roll against goblins with a nice big bonus. Johnny likes to pull together weird twenty-piece combos that do things in ways no one's ever thought of before. Spike likes to win.

In MtG, winning means, well, winning. It's a competitive game. Spike will look up the deck lists du jour online. He will go out and get the best cards. He will tweak his decks to ruthlessly grind his opponents into the dust.

In a tabletop RPG context, Spike wants to grind all of the challenges into a goopy pulp and then drink them through a sippy straw. Monsters? East laser. Traps? Eat laser. Kidnapped princess? Eat la- well, no, kidnapped princesses get taken to the king and traded in to complete the quest. Spike is going to bring a character that's the best at what he does. There's no reason to assume that this character is inappropriate for the table, but it's definitely going to be difficult for the DM to challenge the PC unless the DM is equally good at the game.

RenaldoS
2015-07-14, 12:16 AM
A power gamer is someone who wants to capture the feeling of "winning" and so does his best to get that result all the time. This is usually done by obsession with getting the biggest possible numbers, even if it makes no sense or is counter to the tone of the game. Sadly, some even resort to cheating or misrepresenting the rules to capture this feeling.

Yukitsu
2015-07-14, 01:03 AM
A power gamer is someone who wants to capture the feeling of "winning" and so does his best to get that result all the time. This is usually done by obsession with getting the biggest possible numbers, even if it makes no sense or is counter to the tone of the game. Sadly, some even resort to cheating or misrepresenting the rules to capture this feeling.

Typically, the ones that do cheat or misrepresent the rules are also known as munchkins, and since that style of play has a term of its own, usually powergamer refers to ones that aren't cheating, though some people do use it when referencing cheaters.

Geddy2112
2015-07-14, 01:33 AM
Caveat, I play mostly pathfinder/3.5


What is power gaming?
Playing the best mechanical possibility. In my opinion, if everybody powergamed, they would only play the most powerful thing ever so every party should be a group of powergaming minmaxed wizards. That said, I think powergaming applies to any class, concept, etc. You can powergame a monk, bard, whatever, but it will never be as raw powerful as the god wizard. Powergaming is a continuum, but leans towards players playing the most mechanically effective things possible.


is it a problem?
This depends on the game system. In some games and game systems, not powergaming could be a problem. I don't think powergaming in and of itself is a problem in role playing games.


is it something to strive for?
There is a fine balance between playing an effective character, and roflstomping every encounter. Nobody wants their awesome concept to die to a trivial encounter, nor is it fun to simply win button and take the challenge out of the game. Most players I know seem to shoot somewhere in between.


Is the bane of roleplaying games?
Not inherently; roleplaying games are about roleplaying. Powergaming or not, if a player is not roleplaying, then why play a roleplaying game?



In my opinion making the best character you can is fine and i don't really see a problem with it.If a guy is an ******* he will be no matter what he focus on. I totally agree.

Gracht Grabmaw
2015-07-14, 08:05 AM
If you think that making the most powerful character possible actually means making the best character possible, then you are a power gamer.

dream
2015-07-14, 09:50 AM
What is power gaming? is it a problem? is it something to strive for? Is the bane of roleplaying games? is something normal?
Power-Gaming is "playing to win". It's not a problem, since games should be played to win. It might be something to strive for if winning games is important to you. No it's not the "bane of RPGs". The majority of the TTRPGs players that I've run games for since high school have been power-gamers. This includes most of the adults that I've played with.


I saw 2 videos today on youtube:( this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pwNFMzLlRo) and this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkHd7mLhcoY)) and I see that people have very different views on it.
People come to the hobby from different cultures & thus have different viewpoints. in my experience, Power-Gamers play to win; Min-Maxers build crazy PCs because they're trying to break the system (in a scientific way); Munchkins are immature sociopaths that you should never game with (unless you're killing their PCs).


In my opinion making the best character you can is fine and i don't really see a problem with it. The problem is always with players outside of the game. The problem starts when a players is an *******.

I have played with nice players that have been focused on powergaming, roleplaying or having a nice beer on the game, all on the same table with no problem. If a guy is an ******* he will be no matter what he focus on.
Yep. Munchkins SUCK and everyone within the hobby KNOWS THIS. Avoid them and game on! :smallcool:

Jay R
2015-07-14, 09:51 AM
In general a "power gamer" is whoever is better at optimization than you are.

Power gaming is like driving on a one-lane country road. Anyone faster than you is a maniac; anyone slower than you is a slug.

I prefer playing with players who have a complete characterization for the character, and no who he or she is without the numbers. Whether the character is more powerful or not is none of my business*.

----------------

*Except when it affects my character's chances of survival. In one current game, I'm frustrated that all of the casters in the party are poorly multi-classed, so we have a tenth-level party with nothing above third level spells.]

mephnick
2015-07-14, 10:03 AM
The Celestial/Oni Tiefling/Half-Dragon Warlock 2/Wizard 8/Paladin 2/Snowflake of Specialness 8 because all these things add a few more numbers regardless of how stupid or inane the combination is in relation to the setting or the rest of his party. Then they generally get pissy when you say "There's no tieflings in this setting." and then come up with something more ridiculous seemingly just to spite you.

Jay R
2015-07-14, 01:17 PM
Then they generally get pissy when you say "There's no tieflings in this setting."

As well they should. Any information crucial for character creation should be available to them before the start of character creation.


... and then come up with something more ridiculous seemingly just to spite you.

If the DM is making rulings just to spite the players, then the players should leave the game.

But equally, if a player is doing something "just to spite" the DM, that player should be kicked out of the game.

Any co-operative activity needs to be co-operative.

Fyndhal
2015-07-14, 03:00 PM
If you think that making the most powerful character possible actually means making the best character possible, then you are a power gamer.

This sums it up quite nicely.

BWR
2015-07-14, 03:53 PM
In general a "power gamer" is whoever is better at optimization than you are.

Power gaming is like driving on a one-lane country road. Anyone faster than you is a maniac; anyone slower than you is a slug.

I prefer playing with players who have a complete characterization for the character, and no who he or she is without the numbers. Whether the character is more powerful or not is none of my business*.


Correct, as usual.

gom jabbarwocky
2015-07-14, 04:04 PM
A power gamer is that guy who, when you and your buds are getting together to play a fun, friendly game, take it all way too seriously. It doesn't matter if it's basketball, poker, D&D, or freaking candyland. When they play, they play to win, even in a game where "winning" isn't a viable goal or more of an abstract concept (like in D&D). For my purposes, "power gamer" and "munchkin" are usually analogous, although the term "munchkin" is more broad (i.e. all power gamers are munchkins, but not all munchkins are power gamers). For example, a munchkin may attempt to suck up to or bribe the GM to get their way, while a power gamer would never stoop to that. A power gamer will usually view the GM as the ultimate adversary, their white wale, a final conquest on the road to total victory. And then there were no more worlds to conquer...

While a min-maxer is content to trade away certain abilities in exchange for power, a power gamer will not countenance any weakness in their PC; power gaming is ultimately obnoxious and selfish. They are the player equivalent of the railroad-y GM, who runs roughshod over the other players with a ruthlessness generally only reserved for stampeding hordes of Mongol cavalry. Attempting to play in a party with a power gamer is an exercise in psychological endurance, as you are browbeaten into submission time and time again, until you are rendered little more than subhuman. At least a GM has the tools to fight back, but even a weak-willed GM can be bent to serve their twisted agenda. Still, no matter how awful a player may be, they won't typically poison a game so completely as a bad GM can. However, Typically doesn't mean can't, take it from me.

Flickerdart
2015-07-14, 04:09 PM
A power gamer is that guy who, when you and your buds are getting together to play a fun, friendly game, take it all way too seriously.
That definition describes obsessive roleplayers just as well, and those folks couldn't tell a flaw from a trait.


They are the player equivalent of the railroad-y GM, who runs roughshod over the other players with a ruthlessness generally only reserved for stampeding hordes of Mongol cavalry. Attempting to play in a party with a power gamer is an exercise in psychological endurance, as you are browbeaten into submission time and time again, until you are rendered little more than subhuman.
This can also apply to people that aren't powergamers, except in this case literally any amount of game mastery works just as well. Being an overbearing expletive is completely unrelated to how beefed up your character is.


Hell, consider your typical stick-in-the-mud D&D Paladin. A rubbish character class, but one whose player might very easily take the game too seriously and try to shackle the entire party with his own interpretation of his Paladin Code.

Hawkstar
2015-07-14, 07:46 PM
As well they should. Any information crucial for character creation should be available to them before the start of character creation.

If the DM is making rulings just to spite the players, then the players should leave the game.

But equally, if a player is doing something "just to spite" the DM, that player should be kicked out of the game.

Any co-operative activity needs to be co-operative.
Of course, a lot of people see/assume malice where there actually is none. Sometimes, it's just minor playstyle mismatch.



Anyone with better system mastery than you is a power gamer. Anyone with lower system mastery is a scrub.

ShaneMRoth
2015-07-15, 01:46 AM
What is power gaming?


Power gaming is pretty well defined on this thread, everyone appears to be in the same ballpark, at least.

It is a mechanical and potentially polarizing style of play.



is it a problem?


Like any other style of play, power gaming can be disruptive if it becomes "too much of a good thing."



is it something to strive for?


Not in my opinion. Power gaming is a valid, but overrated, approach to the hobby.



Is the bane of roleplaying games?


It is neither the bane nor the salvation of roleplaying games. It strikes me as an aggressive playing style that is relatively prone to getting out of hand.



is something normal?


Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

But power gamers are common.

As far as I am concerned, power gamers are a dime a dozen.

They are like lead guitarists in rock bands. All of them think they are indispensable, all of them think they are more skilled than they actually are, and there's always a better one just around the corner.

My approach to power gamers is to let them enjoy their power, provided they don't have their fun at another's expense.

In combat, the power gamer's character will be increase the odds that the entire party will survive an encounter.

That is a good thing.

The whole point of power gaming is to revel in power. They want to be badasses. Let them be badasses.

You know what's boring? A bunch of players looking at character sheets of dead player characters one hour into a four hour game session. That's boring.

The trick is keeping the power gamer from busting my game in Session Zero.



Power gamers have worked very hard to earn their polarizing reputation over the decades.

The Power Gamer tends to place no value on the DM's time.

The Power Gamer will never stop asking for more power.

One more bonus, one more feat, one more hit point. One more advantage. One more rule.

If you decide against giving the Power Gamer the power he thinks is fair, he will ask for one more minute. He doesn't understand. If you just explain why he can't have that extra power that's fine. But he just doesn't understand. Could you just explain it one more time.

Like Lieutenant Columbo, he always has "just one more question."

You need to tell the Power Gamer NO. And you need to tell him NO repeatedly.

I love telling Power Gamers NO. Love it. I never get tired of it. Oh, I'm smiling right now just thinking about telling a Power Gamer, "NO, you can't do that... NO, you can't have that... NO." Mmmmm. Telling a power gamer "NO" is like getting a hug from Jesus.

The DMs who hate power gamers tend to be the DMs who hate saying the word NO. These are the DMs whose games get boned by power gamers. These are the DMs who have power gamers eat their time like breakfast cereal.

If a Power Gamer threatens to vote with his feet if he doesn't get what he wants... call his bluff. Because he's always bluffing. He never walks. Never. The Power Gamer needs you more than you need him.



A power gamer will tend to either make you a better DM or destroy your campaign.

Power gamers must not be trusted with game mechanics any further than a DM could throw a fit.

Not that the Power Gamer is being malicious, but his Inner Munchkin's hunger for power constantly overrides his good judgment.

If a power gamer presents a build to me, I go over the rules used to inform that build with a fine toothed comb and then I go over all of the mechanics that are related to those mechanics.

If a power gamer comes up with a build that allows him to function as a character who is three levels higher than his effective level... ninety nine times out of a hundred... something got missed. Usually something deceptively simple.

The Power gamer will stack bonuses that shouldn't stack.

He will make mechanical links between rules that don't link.

He will completely ignore rules that don't support his build concept.

He will make elegant and internally consistent logical arguments that ignore the inherent meaning of game terms.

And the next time he makes a character, he will do all of this crap again. Like Groundhog Day or something.

The power gamer is a zealous advocate for his character, and he will open his negotiation for power at the highest theoretical mechanical limit he can.

He wants to squeeze every bonus he can get out of the game.

As the DM, I don't negotiate with power gamers. As the DM, I decide what the Rules As Written mean, not the Power Gamer.

I determine what works and then I make my own judgment about how the build will play in my campaign, and tell the power gamer how that build will play.

Sometimes the power gamer modifies the build, sometimes he doesn't. But by the time the power gamer is done, he has a solid character that will allow him to revel in a satisfying amount of power in a manner that won't break my game.

Arbane
2015-07-15, 03:15 AM
Anyone with better system mastery than you is a power gamer. Anyone with lower system mastery is a scrub.

This is the best answer in this thread so far.

Mark Hall
2015-07-15, 12:50 PM
It has a variable meaning which has changed over time. It can mean someone who likes to play high power games (where the rest of the party is more or less equal in footing, and the challenge is equal to their strength), one who seeks mechanical advantage in the system at any level (so they make powerful characters for whatever level they are playing; they may encourage others to do so, and help them if asked, or they may simply make their character powerful without concern for what the rest of the party does), or someone who looks to "beat" the game by creating a character who can dominate the game through a combination of valid and invalid interpretations of the rules.

The third definition is usually synonymous with "munchkin", though that's a term with its own history of meaning, ranging from the guys who try to beat the game to the kids who are playing (with or without understanding it).

ElenionAncalima
2015-07-15, 01:57 PM
Its definitely one of those terms that varies depending on who you ask. It gets even more confusing when mixed in with terms like Optimizer and Munchkin. Personally, I tend to use Power Gamer and Munchkin with more of a negative implication than I use Optimizer.

For me, the distinguishing feature of each is what the player wants out of building their character. An Optimizer wants to build the best character that they can for the game and never feel useless during play. A Power Gamer wants to win by being the strongest character in the party and making the GM cry. A Munchkin just wants everything, regardless of whether it makes any sense, is legal or even benefits their character that much in the long run.

I am sure plenty of people would disagree with my take on the terms. However, I still like to have my own personal definitions. I think it helps as a GM when it comes time to communicate what kind of builds and general attitude I am hoping to have at the table

MrStabby
2015-07-15, 02:14 PM
So I wonder if I fall somewhere on the spectrum of being a powergamer.

I will have a character concept in mind; something that conceptually I find fun. Within this concept though I will try and maximise my power. There is an element of challenge to it to find a way to try and make things work.

For example i may decide I want to play a sneaking hermit with levels of druid and rogue with a focus on natural poisons or similar. The concept may not be strong but within that concept I will stagger the multiclass to get me the most beneficial abilities and will take feats that compliment the idea.

One thing I will never do is try to cheat or wilfully misinterpret rules or even try and impose my interpretation on other people.

Do I wan't to be the strongest character in the party? I want to be good but not necessarily the strongest. I do very strongly tend to specialise though I will try and be the best in the party at the thing I specialise in (I would probably be annoyed if I put so much effort into getting one narrow thing good and found that someone else could do the same thing better)

ShaneMRoth
2015-07-15, 03:07 PM
One of my most prolific power gamers had a this wizard.

This player made a point of doing everything he could to increase the wizard's Armor Class.

He ended up with the highest armor class in the party. I don't remember the specific number, but eventually it got up in the 30s. Low 30's I think.

You know what I did as DM?

Nothing.

Well, I made sure that the mechanics were correct. That he didn't stack what shouldn't be stacked. Things like that.

But once I was satisfied that his Armor Class was mechanically legit... I just let that Armor Class play.

I didn't try and take away his magic items.

I didn't jack up the attack bonuses of opponents.

I didn't increase the CR of encounters so that he would get hit more and would be at increased risk of critical hits.

The player put a lot of resources into his Armor Class, resources that he could have put into other things.

I let him revel in it.

He looked unarmored, so he was ostensibly the easiest person to hit in the Party.

Sometimes I would have a dozen opponents fire ranged weapons at him, and they would routinely miss him.

He never got tired of that.

Ever.

The look of satisfaction on this player's face every time he got missed was unmistakable.

It never got old.

Natural 20s always hit, so he got hit sometimes. But critical hits on this character were rare. As they were supposed to be, since he had a high AC.

I let the power gamers do their thing.

I challenge them in other ways.

Atanvarno
2015-07-15, 04:14 PM
A "power gamer" plays the game at hand.
They try to be as effective / efficient / optimal as possible within a narrow set of restrictions and do their best to ignore any other considerations.
They attempt to assume the role of being the perfect automaton designed to play a specific game, and enjoy doing so.

A "normal" player is playing a game of playing the game.
Rather than strictly attempting to win, they are instead optimizing towards a different goal.
They instead want to maximize their enjoyment of the act of playing the game.

While this can be a good thing, it has its own failure states:
Causing your own team to lose a game due entirely to your actions is entertaining for some people.
Declining to finish off a clearly beaten opponent in a competitive game can allow them to revel in their overwhelmingly superior state for a longer time.
Some people can't stand beating other people and will instead allow their opponent to win.

There are useful elements in both, and few people are all of one or the other.
Problems tend to arise when not all players are playing the same game.

LudicSavant
2015-07-15, 04:45 PM
All these definitions to the effect of "trying to play the best possible character" just seem silly to me, because in all my years as a roleplayer I've never met or even heard of a player who actually wanted to play Pun Pun (or any similarly powerful build off the CharOp Campaign Smashers list) in a game, and any character that is not on that level is not even close to the most mechanically powerful character an even moderately experienced optimizer can make. These hypothetical guys who are "trying to make the most mechanically powerful character possible" seem to largely be a myth. Indeed, most of the people I've seen getting called powergamers are absolutely NOT trying to make the most powerful character they can.

In my experience, "powergamer" is typically used as a derogatory term to throw at people who have a more effective or intelligently played character than someone else at the table or people who are somehow seen as "not having fun right." Thus, I tend to think that even using the word tends to reflect poorly on the person using it.


In general a "power gamer" is whoever is better at optimization than you are.

Power gaming is like driving on a one-lane country road. Anyone faster than you is a maniac; anyone slower than you is a slug.

This. Indeed, most of the people I have seen be accused of being "power gamers" didn't even have particularly powerful characters, they just had characters that were better at something than the most unsportsmanlike player in the group OR had a character that could use a tactic that the DM didn't understand how to deal with.

Yukitsu
2015-07-15, 05:11 PM
All these definitions about "trying to play the best possible character" just seem silly to me, because in all my years as a roleplayer I've never met or even heard of a player who actually wanted to play Pun Pun (or any similarly powerful build off the CharOp Campaign Smashers list) in a game, and any character that is not on that level is not even close to the most mechanically powerful character an even moderately experienced optimizer can make. These hypothetical guys who are "trying to make the most mechanically powerful ever in the game" seem to largely be a myth. Indeed, most of the people I've seen getting called powergamers are absolutely NOT trying to make the most powerful character they can.

In my experience, in practice powergamer is mostly used as a derogatory term to throw at people who have a more effective or intelligently played character than someone else at the table or people who are somehow seen as "not having fun right." Thus, I tend to think that even using the word tends to reflect poorly on the person using it.

In practice, most things you know from theory op are not actually possible. Pun-pun for example, requires that Sarruk's be a thing that exist which they don't have to be. In fact, by default they're only endemic to Faerun. It also isn't possible at lower levels where the DM (who by RAW doesn't have to) can simply RP the wishes as being more corrupted since the first one comes from Pazzuzu who can corrupt your wish if he wants to and knows what you're doing (which he will). There are a few theory builds that I think you can play, but they require much higher levels with rocky progression at the start or which again require Faerun (which is a terribly balanced setting regardless). Actually trying to use one of those builds, it's pretty easy to see your build failing to work out the gate if your DM is maintaining both rules consistency, setting consistency and isn't going to just RP people giving you unlimited wish candles.

That's why theoretical and practical optimization are separated. Those really powerful theory op builds often simply can't work in a real game not just because they can break the game, but more because they won't conform to the rules of the game. Let alone the fact that in practice, DMs don't care about RAW (and they shouldn't) and often have a few house rules.

LudicSavant
2015-07-15, 05:23 PM
In practice, most things you know from theory op are not actually possible. Pun-pun for example, requires that Sarruk's be a thing that exist which they don't have to be. In fact, by default they're only endemic to Faerun. It also isn't possible at lower levels where the DM (who by RAW doesn't have to) can simply RP the wishes as being more corrupted since the first one comes from Pazzuzu who can corrupt your wish if he wants to and knows what you're doing (which he will). There are a few theory builds that I think you can play, but they require much higher levels with rocky progression at the start or which again require Faerun (which is a terribly balanced setting regardless). Actually trying to use one of those builds, it's pretty easy to see your build failing to work out the gate if your DM is maintaining both rules consistency, setting consistency and isn't going to just RP people giving you unlimited wish candles.

That's why theoretical and practical optimization are separated. Those really powerful theory op builds often simply can't work in a real game not just because they can break the game, but more because they won't conform to the rules of the game. Let alone the fact that in practice, DMs don't care about RAW (and they shouldn't) and often have a few house rules.

Many of the things off of the Char-Op Campaign Smasher list have rather few requirements. Some really nasty things are core only, even.

This is of course just personal experience (as well as browsing forum communities and the like), but I've never seen any strong optimizers actually try to make the most powerful character they could. I've seen novice players do it, but their "most powerful characters" are often less threatening than the intentionally gimped characters of strong optimizers.

By contrast, I've seen people accuse people of being "power gamers" for things like being able to do 40 damage on a full attack or having 30 AC in hundreds of threads and dozens of groups. These things aren't even particularly strong, they're just either A) Better than someone else at the table at that particular task or B) A tactic the DM doesn't understand how to deal with.

Anyways, whatever the issue at your table is, there's probably a thousand better ways to resolve any given problem with player power at the table than starting to label people with terms typically seen as derogatory.

Most of the "power gamer" dilemmas at tables can be resolved by asking questions like "Maybe there's something I'm missing to deal with this tactic, maybe I could ask for tactical advice" or "Maybe their character has weaknesses to go with their strengths" or "Maybe we talk about what power level we should each build towards instead of just assuming that everyone will play at my preferred power level without saying anything" or "Maybe I should ask the more experienced optimizer for help building my character."

Yukitsu
2015-07-15, 05:35 PM
Many of the things off of the Char-Op Campaign Smasher list have rather few requirements.

Anyways, I've never seen anyone actually try to make the most powerful character they could except for novice players with a poor grasp of the rules, and their "most powerful characters" are often weaker than more experienced players' intentionally gimped builds.

By contrast, I've seen people accuse people of being "power gamers" for things like being able to do 40 damage on a full attack or having 30 AC in hundreds of threads and dozens of groups.

That's because typically, that's the highest level of practical optimization those groups can manage. There aren't many theoretical optimization builds that I can think of that will work in most campaign worlds, survive a few cursory house rules and which work from 1-20 or whatever your DM plans on starting or ending at, or at the very least I can't remember any of them being powerful at lower levels. And even then, in most groups the standard is a pretty poor understanding of the system and how it really ticks, so when someone does manage a high number through some clever effort and forethought it can very well appear to be power gaming.

That doesn't mean the whining about it is necessarily warranted, but a lot of the things DMs around here complain about in practice may very well be far beyond the curve of what the DM or player could get without significant effort. My group thinks me level 6 pathfinder fighter is extremely powerful even though I'm playing a fighter for example, but my character does use pretty much everything I possibly could to not just make an effective fighter within the rules, but the most powerful one I possibly could. They're mostly competent enough that they aren't whining about my build but if you asked them they'd certainly label me the group's resident power gamer (though I tend to wear that tag on my sleeve).

Hawkstar
2015-07-15, 08:22 PM
The power gamer is the person who doesn't see a problem with having a DM have to try to deal with their character. The power gamer is the one who builds the numbers first, then creates a character around those. The power gamer is the one who gets a thrill out of being able to pump numbers higher, instead of focus on fluff. The power gamer is the one who compares her characters to the rest of the party, to see who 'wins' where (And gets really happy when she wins most areas. Even though it's not a competition. EEEE, I love my STR-based Bard!).

I am my group's power gamer, and it causes all sorts of headaches for them. I don't try to be a problem, but it really is playstyle dissonance. Apparently, my DM thought my max-CON warforged Sorcerer in 13th Age was being punished by being treated as a punching-bag by all the monsters, and dropped several times in fights against the most remarkable enemies.

Mechalich
2015-07-15, 09:48 PM
The power gamer is the person who doesn't see a problem with having a DM have to try to deal with their character.

This. Only, I would say, it's the person who doesn't see a problem with the GM having to deal with their character vastly out of proportion to the other player's characters.

If everyone is equally optimized it can be slightly frustrating, but it's not that hard to handle (in D&D it mostly means just throwing more powerful things at the party, at least for a while). It's when one character can take on a challenge with one hand tied behind their back that TPKs everyone else that power gaming becomes a problem. Or its when someone generates a series of permissible combinations that fundamentally breaks the constraints of the setting (more common with certain games and really mostly a design-side problem but there are systems out there that even a modest level of power gaming simply explode).

Power gamers tend to annoy GMs because they are the kind of players who you can't just say 'make a reasonable character for X-style campaign' to. You have to add a long list of 'and you can't do A, B, C, D, etc. things at the time.' Some GMs don't like doing that, and even if they are okay with doing so it makes for more work. It also inevitably distorts at-the-table play dynamics by forcing a GM to spend more attention and effort on one person than others in order to keep the campaign functional, and that's the part that can get really nasty.

JeenLeen
2015-07-16, 09:32 AM
I'll put in my 2 cents.
I consider myself a power-gamer. Not a bad sort, but one. I want to make a character that is the best mechanically at my design goal (whether kill monsters, be persuasive, or whatever.)

Power-gaming can be good. I made a buffer/control wizard in D&D, and my guy was personally not that great, but I made the other PCs about 25-50% stronger. I was a team player and helped out, and being strong helped me to help the other players succeed.

Power-gaming can be bad. For me, it stopped being fun. My group stopped a D&D game because we were all such high level and power (all Tier 1 casters, too) that combat was rocket tag with folk routinely dying and getting a rez the next turn. In other games, I found that building the best character I could mechanically conflicted with roleplay because my char would not train in the most optimized fashion. (I do not think it necessarily conflicts with rp, but in my case it did.) Once I accepted that it was okay to be sub-optimal, and that it didn't hurt the team, I felt better about it and enjoyed the game more, but it still nags me a little.)

In general, I think it's probably more often bad, but if it works for you, your GM, and your party, then it's fine.

mephnick
2015-07-16, 11:06 AM
As well they should. Any information crucial for character creation should be available to them before the start of character creation.

It always is. That doesn't seem to help some times. These kinds of people have these builds thought up before they join a campaign, because whether the character fits the campaign is irrelevant to them.

Flickerdart
2015-07-16, 11:08 AM
It always is. That doesn't seem to help some times. These kinds of people have these builds thought up before they join a campaign, because whether the character fits the campaign is irrelevant to them.
I've never met anyone who would go "I know this is a 5th level evil campaign but here's my epic lantern archon character" - and I know some pretty powergamery people.

dream
2015-07-16, 12:15 PM
My last two offline groups had adult powergamers: I was running PF APs and suggested a first session with everyone to build PCs. The powergamers instead pre-designed their PCs AND convinced other gamers that they could help them make the most effective PCs.

I mean. You gotta love them, right? :smallsmile:

Silva Stormrage
2015-07-16, 02:03 PM
My last two offline groups had adult powergamers: I was running PF APs and suggested a first session with everyone to build PCs. The powergamers instead pre-designed their PCs AND convinced other gamers that they could help them make the most effective PCs.

I mean. You gotta love them, right? :smallsmile:

Yes? :smallconfused: That seems to be perfectly reasonable assuming they knew the starting level/appropriate information before the first session. Characters can often take more than a single session to build and then offering their probable greater system mastery to others is fine (Assuming the other player wants their help of course). Usually the first session character building is to make sure everyone has a good idea of the rest of the party, to brainstorm and make sure their characters are good for the setting. I really don't see an issue with having a build already in mind by the first character building session.

I honestly can't tell if you are saying this is the appropriate course of action or not. I would assume you are being sarcastic but that seems pretty reasonable.

dream
2015-07-16, 02:22 PM
Yes? :smallconfused: That seems to be perfectly reasonable assuming they knew the starting level/appropriate information before the first session. Characters can often take more than a single session to build and then offering their probable greater system mastery to others is fine (Assuming the other player wants their help of course). Usually the first session character building is to make sure everyone has a good idea of the rest of the party, to brainstorm and make sure their characters are good for the setting. I really don't see an issue with having a build already in mind by the first character building session.

I honestly can't tell if you are saying this is the appropriate course of action or not. I would assume you are being sarcastic but that seems pretty reasonable.
:smallannoyed::smallamused::smallsmile::smalltongu e:

This makes my point. Thank you, Silva!

Cealocanth
2015-07-16, 06:59 PM
My definition of power gamer tends to be a player who attempts to make their character to maximize their potential power over the game. This could be the player that puts every single point into Intimidate in order to be able to skip every combat, the player who decides to take every single edge he can to maximize his damage output or damage resistance, or the player who takes every means to maximize healing output. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it becomes a bad thing when the rest of the group operates at a different level than the power gamer. When one player can deal with significantly more situations than all the other players in the group, either the game has some sort of imbalance in it, or you might have a power gamer.

Since I tend to operate on the philosophy that every player deserves some time in the spotlight in any given session, I tend to encourage specialization. I enjoy when the healer is good at healing, the tank is good at tanking, and the DPS is good at dealing damage. If we have a balance like that, there are easily exploitable weak points that I can take advantage of, and there is more power in teamwork, meaning I can throw harder challenges at them. When every player is a power gamer, we play the game of power where every advantage I can muster is pitted against every advantage the players can. This is fun, and fun is the goal.

However, sometimes we play a different game. Each player has a unique character made for RP purposes. Emphasis has been placed on personality, character flaws, and interaction with others. We rarely make rolls for most situations, instead relying on wit and planning. The players build their characters to match this gameplay style, often taking some not-so-optimized approach to better fit their character. The issue comes when the first game invades on the second game. When a player decides to make a character not for RP purposes, but for sheer power that can be measured in numbers it can mean that they are either left out of the deeper RP going on at the table, or that they completely eclipse the more subtle characters. Either way, this player is a power gamer. This is not an issue with character, though, this is an issue with conflicting personalities.

The solution when you have an imbalance of party power is not to attack the power gamer. Oftentimes, they can't really help it. Being powerful is fun to them, and an underpowered character is not. Let the power gamer help the other players make their characters into more powerful versions of themselves, so party balance of power is brought up to a more even level. You can still play the same game as before, just now, in situations that involve rolling dice and manipulating the numbers, you can throw more at the players than before. You may have to ignore some hindrance discrepancies or some background issues in order to let the non-power-gamers play what they want to play, but it's all in good fun. As long as everyone at the table is having fun, you're doing it right.

goto124
2015-07-16, 11:23 PM
whether the character fits the campaign is irrelevant to them.

Why let them play in your game then?

Also, agreeing with 'let the power gamers help the other players'. Power gamers (as opposed to munchkins) don't mean to overshadow everyone else.